164 of 168 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2000
William Bridges is one of the world's leading experts in the area of managing the human side of change. Bridges originally introduced the notion of "transition" in his first book, Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes (1980), which was a primer on coping with the tumultuous life changes we all face on a personal level. In Managing Transitions, Bridges applies the concept of transition within the context of organizational change.
Bridges asserts that transition is not synonymous with "change." A change occurs when something in the external environment is altered. In an organizational setting this would include changes in management, organizational structure, job design, systems, processes, etc. These changes trigger an internal psychological reorientation process in those who are expected to carry out or respond to the change. Transition is this internal process that people must go through in order to come to terms with a new situation. Unless transition occurs, change will not work.
Bridges believes that the failure to identify and prepare for the inevitable human psychological adjustments that change produces is the largest single problem that organizations encounter when they implement major change initiatives.
Unfortunately, many managers, when confronted with predictable change-induced resistance by those charged with implementing a change, respond in punitive and inappropriate ways that only serve to undermine the change effort. Due to their lack of understanding of transition, they do not possess the skills to facilitate it effectively.
Leaders and managers often assume that when necessary changes are decided upon and well planned, they will just happen. Unless the transition process is handled successfully by management, all that careful decision making and detailed planning will matter little.
We must face the fact that for a change to occur, people must own it. Unless people go through the inner process of transition, they will not develop the new behavior and attitudes the change requires. Change efforts that disregard the process of transition are doomed.
Bridges presents the reader with a simple three-phase transition model that eliminates much of the mystery surrounding the human side of change. He then provides would-be change agents with a series of checklists that serve as a road map for managing transitions in the real world.
Both research and experience remind us that although a change can be implemented quickly, the psychological process of transition takes time. Transitions can take a very long time if they are not well managed. Few organizations can afford to wait that long for the results.
The good news is that leaders can learn basic transition management strategies. Armed with these skills, they can lead employees through complex and difficult changes with renewed energy and purpose, and can actually accelerate the process of transition.
With as many as half of all major organizational change efforts failing, leaders must learn new strategies and skills that will increase the odds of success. Bridges has provided us with a toolkit for managing the human side of change that is well worth considering.
62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 1999
The main message of this book - "Never lose sight of the fact that is not so much that you are starting something new but it is that you are stopping something old". The something old that you are stopping is the system that people have used for years. It might be the worlds worst system but it was theirs and you are going to take it away and replace it with something they neither understand or have been a part of selecting. This book helps you deal with that issue. Read it first - then start re-engineering.
42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 1999
This books helps one get one's arms around the "soft" - but most difficult - side of change. I cannot tell you how many brilliant implementation plans fail because consultants and organizations did not plan ahead and take into account the material covered in this book. Checklists and clear descriptions help even the most analytical types understand the human side of change and tactics needed to make change successful. I recommend this book to all my friends - from McKinsey consultants to ministers and non-profit managers.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2010
The only other review rated the book at 1 star. Wow, did that confuse me until I discovered that the beef was with the vendor and had nothing to do with the book. This book is very helpful. I read it about four months after the launch of a major change at work. Initailly, I wished that I had read it sooner, but then I realized that the pain I had experienced without the knowledge from the author made the book more meaningful. Still, I regard chapters 4 and 5 essential and wish I had read them months ago as it would have been helpful to me and those I lead and influence. Heck! I wish the leaders in the company would habe read and headed the author's advice before even beginning the planning of the change!
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2001
Leading a full-time staff of 20 people and over a 1000 volunteers, and having read a number of books on change, I have found William Bridges book extremely helpful. Many talk about change without thinking about the people that change can effect. William helps us understand that change is situational, while transition is emotional. He puts flesh and bones on change.
This book is well organized, breaking down transition into three phases. Phase I: "The Letting Go Stage", Phase II: "The Neutral Zone" and Phase III: "The New Beginning" In each phase William helps us understand what to anticipate and gives us extremely practical advice and checklists.
I also enjoy the awesome quotes throughout the book. Here are some great qoutes from Phase II:
"It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's the place inbetween that we fear... It's like being between trapezes." Marilyn Ferguson
"It takes nine months to have a baby, no matter how many people you can put on the job." American saying
"An adventure is only an inconvience rightly understood. An inconvience is only an adventure wrongly understood." C.K. Chesterton
Get the book. It is well worth your investment. It will help you with your greatest asset: PEOPLE.
35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
I read this book when it was first published (1991) and recently re-read it, curious to see how well Bridges' ideas have held up since then. They remain rock-solid. His objective is to suggest how to "make the most of change" and heaven knows there have been so many major changes, both global and local, in recent years. I expect the nature and number of such turmoil to increase significantly, and, to occur at an ever-accelerating velocity. I also expect Bridges' observations and suggestions to remain valid. Perhaps at some point he will revise this book to accommodate certain changes such as the emergence of what Pink calls "the free agent nation." The book's materiel is carefully organized within four Parts:
The Problem [Bridges provides "a new and useful perspective on the difficulties ahead" and then a test case which illustrates that perspective]
The Solutions [Bridges suggests all manner of ways to apply what is learned from the previous Part]
Dealing with Nonstop Change in the Organization and Your Life [Bridges suggests a number of strategies by which to cope with rapid change, both organizationally and personally]
In 1991, Bridges was convinced that it is impossible to achieve any desired objectives without getting to "the personal stuff"; the challenge is to get people to stop doing whatever "the old way" and that cannot be accomplished impersonally. He was also convinced that transition management requires experience and abilities we already possess as when we struggle, for example, to "figure out a tactful response in a difficult situation." However, the strategies of transition management he suggests may require mastery of certain techniques which we "can easily learn." Presumably Bridges remains convinced today of these same basic points even as new applications and (yes) complications have revealed themselves.
For whom will this book be most valuable? Given the nature and extent of organizational change, I would include everyone engaged (voluntarily or involuntarily) in those changes...at least everyone at the management level. Also, service providers such bankers, attorneys, accountants, bankers, executive recruiters, and management consultants such as I who are directly associated with those organizations. On several occasions, Drucker has brilliantly discussed the challenge of managing a future which has already occurred but perhaps has not as yet been recognized. I agree with him that that is indeed a major challenge. One of Bridges' key points seems to be that it is not only possible but imperative to manage effectively the transition from a current situation to a desired destination. It is not always possible to "manage change" but I agree with Bridges that it IS possible to formulate and then manage an appropriate response to it. Those who share my high regard for this book are encouraged to read (if they have not already done so) Bridges' previous work, Transitions, as well as O'Toole's Managing Change, Katzenbach's Real Change Leaders, and finally, The Manager as Change Agent co-authored by Quatro, Hoekstra, Whittle, Gilley, and Maycunich.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 1998
As CEO of an organisation that lost 3/4 of its income due to government policy changes, and 3/4 of staff made redundant, this book proved a godsend. Not only did it reinforce what steps I had already taken to reinvent the business before we went out of business, but it also provided further practical advice on additional steps I and we should be taking to make the transition from the 'old' to the 'new' focus. Importantly it then it addressed strategies for continuing to manage constant change. So it helped us over the immediate crisis, and also will give useful support in the future. This book is an invaluable resource for the individual or organisation that exists in a volatile marketplace (and who doesn't?). It stresses the critical 'soft' management skills that are often overlooked, wheras many other texts address the structural process of change alone.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2004
The book underlines the fact that while change may be planned, systemic and structural actions taken by the managers and decision makers within the organizations, it?s the transition within the employees? mind that actually dictates the realization of desired objectives of change. The book is a step-wise guide to managing the transition in employees mind.
Managing transition involves helping people through three phases; letting go the old ways, going through the in-between when the old is gone and new is not fully operational and the new beginning phase. Author clearly delineates challenges and provides strategies for addressing employee emotional needs while experiencing these phases. The strategies focus on addressing four Ps: The Purpose (beat the problem), The Picture (of envisioned tomorrow), The Plan (resources, schedule etc.) and finally the Part for each player.
Author has very lucidly mapped the transition challenges as the organisation goes through its seven stages of life cycle (as he puts it) ie: Dreaming the Dream. Launching a Venture, Getting Organized, Becoming an Institution, Closing in and Dying. He also provides some management guidelines to make organizations break the cycle and move towards organisation renewal instead of closing-in.
In a very informative manner, author describes the most important steps, the planned steps and the blunders in managing transitions, using case studies. Comparing self analysis of the cases with the proposed solution forces reflection and facilitate understanding and imbibing of concepts.
The book can be viewed as a learning guide for all managers involved in initiating, planning and managing initiatives. The book is refreshingly different from the ?prescriptive model- centric? change management books. The gain for the reader would be decided by his ability to work with the book, than pick it for an arm-chair reading.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The focus of the venture capital community is on the change a new disruptive company intends to bring to the world, and little, if any, attention is paid to the changes and transitions that the company, as it moves from concept development to full commercialization, will have to negotiate to achieve its vision. "Transition Management" provides an excellent `how to' book for young, fragile companies as they negotiate the never ending changes and transitions that they will be forced to make.
As author William Bridges points out, change is situational and transition is psychological. "People are the ones who have to embrace new situations and carry out the corresponding changes. The psychological shifts that accompany the situational shifts can be difficult for people and must be managed to have everyone on board." Change and transition management is crucial to focus, execution, and organizational productivity.
Those of us experienced in start-up management know first hand the changes that we will have to manage - some expected, some unexpected. But few of us have been schooled in the management of the transition that accompanies change. Generally, decisions to create change are made and implemented whether the people are on board or not. A spirit of "they will have to just accept them" is the operative mantra.
But, as Bridges points out so well, we can do much to ease these transitions and keep our employees "on-board and involved." It is self-defeating to try to overcome people's resistance to change without addressing the threat that change poses to their world. For successful change to take place, people must have a purpose, a mental picture, a plan for, and a part to play in change. In short, successful change takes place only when everyone is actively involved.
Key changes that create transitions that must be managed in a start-up include, but are not limited to:
* The addition of new functions.
* The addition/replacement of key executives.
* The addition/replacement of key board members.
* The addition of new, actively involved investors.
* Significant workforce expansion/reduction.
* Relocation to larger facilities.
* The relocation of some functions to a second facility.
* The addition of new actively involved investors.
* The infusion of significant new capital.
* The move from project management to multi-functional management.
* The move from being privately held to being publicly held.
* Events that affects cash usage, business value, and the ability to raise capital.
Bridges shows us that transitions are a process by which people unplug from an old world and plug into a new world. They start with an ending and finish with a beginning. Once he explains the three phases of transition, he goes on to show how to manage the entire process.
B-schools would be well advised to include a transition management course in their entrepreneurial studies programs. Changes of any sort - even though they may be justified in economic or technological terms - finally succeed or fail on the basis of whether the people affected do things differently. And it is this getting people to do things differently that comes through in this excellent book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the most succinct and clearly written business books you will ever read. Author William Bridges uses language with care and precision, delivering the goods without any superfluous jargon. He cites many welcome quotations on change and innovation from a wide range of writers and thinkers whose work is not usually found in business books. He places these quotations in context with aptly chosen examples of recent business transitions, bringing intelligence and sensibility to a subject too often addressed only with clichés and cant. Only those who have read many business books can fully appreciate the value of such an approach. Others will merely find that they are able to read this book from cover to cover without at any point having to wonder what the author really means to say. Managing transitions is really about helping people deal with fear and uncertainty - the key is to build trust and confidence. Everything Bridges says flows from that common sense insight, and seems obvious and necessary once he says it, though it may not seem as evident to you until you read his book. We highly recommends that you do so.